By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
"As-Salaamo ‘ala Aseer-il-kurubaat wa Qateel-il-‘abaraat (Peace upon you O’ who was surrounded by all calamites; Peace upon you O’ who was slain in the state of extreme agony.)”
From far and near; from all over the globe wherever live the followers of the School of the Ahl al-Bayt of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA); and at the place the person surrounded by all calamities was martyred in the state of extreme agony, the above phrase is reverberating these days, as those marking the 40th day of the anniversary of the heartrending tragedy of Ashura, salute Imam Husain (AS) by reciting the "Ziyarath-al-Arba’een” with tears flowing down their eyes and faces turned in the direction of his holy shrine in Karbala.
It is now 1380 lunar years since the grandson of God’s Last and Greatest Messenger to all mankind, preferred to drink the elixir of martyrdom in a heroic but unequal combat with the forces of darkness in order to save Islam and all humanitarian values, rather than give his hand in allegiance to the tyrannical rule of the ungodly Yazid, yet the fervour of the faithful, like those who accompanied him to Paradise in 61 AH (680 AD), continues to increase every year.
This year’s "Arba’een”, the number of pilgrims to Karbala is estimated at 30 million from some fifty world countries, making it the largest assemblage of human beings anywhere on Planet Earth.
The devotees are treading the footsteps of the Prophet’s aged and almost blind companion, Jaber ibn Abdullah al-Ansari, who on hearing of the tragic martyrdom of Imam Husain (AS), immediately started his long journey from Hijaz the Land of Divine Revelation to Iraq, reaching Karbala, the Rendezvous of Martyrs, on the 20th of Safar, 40 days after the immortal epic of Muharram 10.
He was accompanied by his young disciple Atiyah ibn Sa'd ibn Junadah al?Awfi and on reaching the sunbaked grave of Imam Husain (AS), first took a dip in the Alqama Stream (a branch of the River Euphrates), cleansed himself from the dust of the journey and put on neat clothes. He then moved at a slow and steady steps, with tears flowing down his eyes, towards the grave of the Prophet’s grandson. At every step, he would supplicate to God and glorify Him for having bestowed this blessed opportunity. On reaching the grave, Jaber asked Atiyah to help him place his hand on the grave. Upon touching it, he cried "Ya Husain” three times and fainted.
On regaining consciousness, Jaber expressed the Arabic phrase: "Habib man la ya’raf al-Habeeb” (it seems the Friend is not recognizing the Friend). Then he said: "How can Husain (AS) answer while his jugular vein has been cut and his head separated from his body? I testify that you are the Son of the Best of the Prophets, the Master of Messengers.”
After a while, Jaber turned towards the graves of the other martyrs, and greeted them with the words: "O blessed souls that reside beside Husain (AS). I testify that you truly maintained prayer, gave alms, enjoined good, forbade evil, waged jihad against the infidels, and properly worshipped God, thereby reaching the status of certitude.”
Then he said: "By Him Who granted prophethood to His Messenger, we share in what you achieved (of the rewards).”
When Atiyah asked Jaber: "How do we have a share, when we were not present on that day in that place, didn’t go through any hardship and didn’t fight with the sword, while these dear ones sacrificed their lives, their heads were separated from their bodies, and their children imprisoned!”
Jaber replied: "O Atiyah! I heard the Messenger of God say: "Anyone who (whole-heartedly) supports a group will be resurrected with it (on Judgement Day) and anyone who supports the deed of a person will have a share of it.”
Jaber and Atiyah were perhaps alone in Karbala on the first "Arba’een” of the Chief of Masters; and according to a narration they were joined that day by the caravan of released captives who arrived from Damascus, led by Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) and his aunt Hazrat Zainab (SA), weeping incessantly and recalling the magnitude of tragedies that had befallen Imam Husain (AS), while today tens of millions of devotees are walking in the footsteps of these noble personalities.
They are coming from all directions to Karbala – by air, by train, by bus, by car, by boat, and many by staging the great marches on foot from several points, especially the 80 km trek from holy Najaf, after paying respects at the blessed shrine of Imam Husain’s Illustrious Father, the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS).
The pilgrims are not being harassed anymore; whether by the remnants of the Ba’thists who during their reign of terror had banned pilgrimage to the shrine of Imam Husain (AS); whether by the macabrely murderous takfiri terrorists whose bid to turn Iraq into a Saudi satellite state was crushed; whether by the American and Zionist agents that on the threshold of the "Arba’een” ceremonies had made vain efforts to create disturbances in Baghdad and other cities.
The glorious gathering will grow, since Karbala, Iraq, Iran (which is the main provider of security), and the whole world is eagerly awaiting the reappearance of the Saviour of mankind, Imam Mahdi (AS), who will avenge the blood of his ancestor Imam Husain (AS) by establishing the global government of peace, prosperity and justice.
In short, the Day of "Arba’een” refreshes our grief, firms up our faith, and strengthens our resolve to overcome any hurdle the enemies of humanity create for the faithful, as we sincerely salute Imam Husain (AS) with the words:
"He met with deadly dangers, acted justly and fairly, made use of everything belonging to him to pay full attention to give sincere advice, took pains, made every effort and put his heart, mind, soul and life at the disposal of Your mission (O God) to liberate the people from the yoke of ignorance and evil of bewilderment.”
No wonder, the Prophet’s 11th Infallible Heir, Imam Hasan al-Askari (AS) has considered the "Ziyarath al-Arba’een” as one of the Five Signs of Firm Faith.